Cassini’s last look at Enceladus

Before its plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere, the Cassini probe took one final look at the icy moon Enceladus and the plumes of water vapour erupting from its south pole.

14-hour timelapse of Saturn’s moon Enceladus as observed by Cassini.
14-hour timelapse of Saturn’s moon Enceladus as observed by Cassini.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

This movie sequence of images is from the last dedicated observation of the Enceladus plume by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

The images were obtained over approximately 14 hours as Cassini's cameras stared at the active, icy moon. The view during the entire sequence is of the moon's night side, but Cassini's perspective Enceladus shifts during the sequence.

The movie begins with a view of the part of the surface lit by reflected light from Saturn and transitions to completely unilluminated terrain. The exposure time of the images changes about halfway through the sequence, in order to make fainter details visible. (The change also makes background stars become visible.)

The images in this movie sequence were taken on August 28, 2017, using Cassini's narrow-angle camera. The images were acquired at a distance from Enceladus that changed from 1.1 million to 868,000 kilometres. Image scale changes during the sequence, from 7 to 5 kilometres per pixel.

Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
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